...Fuse is also the system by which you rack up combos - by crossing over the special effects of your Fuse weapons. Stand behind Dalston as he puts up a huge shield, for example, and you can fire through the shield to rack up multipliers to your Fuse/XP score.
Even better, as Sinclair you can crystallise enemies through the shield using your Fuse weapon’s ability, then let Dalston discharge the shield in a shockwave. That’ll shatter the enemy and net you an even larger bonus.
When the tall man at the front of the room finishes explaining this, we’re given a chance to go hands on and try out the Fuse combos for ourselves - and it turns out to be a tricky business. Without co-ordination and actual discussion it mostly boils down to spur of the moment opportunism and luck. We didn’t get a chance to try the single player, but we imagine the same holds true here as there seemed no evidence of a way to direct the AI.
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That’s something which may turn out to be a very important point for Fuse as, one of the more interesting decisions taken for both the single player and multi player is that you’re totally dependent on your allies in order to progress. If one of you dies, it’s all over - none of this ‘Oh, he’s dead until we rescue him from a cupboard in the next room, Left4Dead style’ nonsense.
The aim of this, apparently, is to try and draw the team together - to make you work together and watch each other’s backs. We can see it working to a degree, as even our only loosely knit group had to work hard to bring down a giant robot boss. Towards the end of our playtime there was even a bit of teamwork going on and, with the Fuse XP and combo system underpinning the action, the result felt a bit like a cross between The Club and Left4Dead.
Unfortunately though, if that’s the mix that Fuse is trying to evoke, then it definitely needs to dial the action up a bit. The idea is there, but it’s a bit too dilute in the sections we played, which often defaulted needlessly to boring game tropes. You know the ones: bullet-sponge boss fights, turret sequences and waves of respawning enemies.
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This may be the problem with Fuse, we expect; that, though it’s got a few interesting ideas in the mix, the bulk of the action is still based around tired ideas which the various Fuse systems can’t quite compensate for.
It’s still too early to take these views with any real certainty, however. We’ve seen relatively little of the game after all and, not only does Insomniac Games still have a lot of content to show off yet and a lot of time to change things, but it also has a history of tinkering with this particular title. Solid as Fuse may appear right now, it was once known by a different name and showcased an entirely different art-style, among other things.
Instead, it’d be more fair to say that - regardless of grander suspicions - what we’ve seen of Fuse is intriguing and interesting enough on the surface to get our attention. We’ll be watching curiously to see how the game develops from here.
Fuse is being developed for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 by Insomniac Games and will be published by Electronic Arts in March 2013.